STOKE CITY’S Under-18 side couldn’t maintain their unbeaten away run as they suffered a 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur’s Training Ground.
The Potters have been in good form on their travels with draws against Sunderland and West Ham followed up by a 4-1 victory at Liverpool.
But John Perkins’ men lost out against a strong Spurs outfit who took a two-goal lead through Victor Zapata before Charlie Ward pulled one back for Stoke with a stunning 25-yard strike.
The Potters pushed for an equaliser with a spirited late fightback, but Zapata completed his hat-trick in time added on to secure the three points.
City ran out 3-2 winners in a thrilling encounter when the two sides last met in February, and Spurs looked like they wanted revenge with a dominant first-half performance.
The home side had already missed a free header from six-yards out before a mistake from usually consistent goalkeeper Dale Eve who played a poor goal kick to Sam Westley. Will Miller intercepted the pass but Eve made up for his mistake by making himself big to save the winger’s shot when he was through one-on-one.
Mason Bush then came close as he attempted an audacious lob over Eve that hit the underside of the crossbar and somehow stayed out.
The Stoke ‘keeper was called into action again to keep out a long-range effort before Ruben Lameiras fired wide. A nice one-two between Lameiras and Josh Onomah left the former with just Eve to beat but he fired inches over as the home side pushed for the opener.
Derice Richards’ blocked shot was the only effort on goal the Potters had in the first period, and Tottenham grabbed a deserved opener just before half-time.
The lively Lameiras played in Zapata inside the penalty area and the striker turned to fire a low shot into the net. Stoke were fortunate to only be a goal behind at the break and still had hope of getting something out of the game.
Zapata fired just wide after the restart before Eve made two good saves, but Spurs doubled their advantage 70 minutes in. Grant Ward cut in from the left wing and struck a curling effort that a diving Eve could only parry. Zapata was quickest to react to the loose ball and netted his second of the game to seemingly kill the game off.
However, the introduction of Peter Makrillos and Joe Hulme seemed to give Stoke extra impetus and they went close soon after. Ward played the ball inside to Degwon Ebanks who teed up Makrillos inside the box but the midfielder’s side-footed effort just went over the bar when he was trying to find the top-right corner.
Kieran Monlouis outmuscled his man on the left and cut inside to shoot, only for his effort to go over the bar as Stoke finally started to get at their hosts. Ward then played in Makrillos one-on-one only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside, but the Potters did score soon after and in spectacular fashion too.
Monlouis won a free kick on the left well within shooting distance, but instead faked a run-up and laid it off for Charlie Ward whose brilliant first-time drive from 25-yards flew into the top right corner of the net to make the score 2-1.
Jake Cook played the ball to Makrillos in the box who fired over as Stoke searched for an equaliser and centre-half Ed Sanders had to be alert at the other end to block a goal bound Spurs effort.
But despite their late fightback, Stoke were pegged back in added time as Tottenham scored a fortuitous third. Lameiras attempted a first-time shot but miss hit his effort which luckily went straight to Zapata in the penalty box, who fired low into the corner of the net to get his hat-trick.
This would prove to be the killer blow, but Kris Scott missed a great chance to pull a goal back with the last attempt of the match.
Ward’s cross fell to Ebanks who passed to Scott with just the keeper the beat, but the midfield man dragged his effort just wide of the post.
The Potters were much improved in the second half and, had they taken their chances, could have equalised and might have held on at 2-2. But in truth, Spurs were the much better side throughout and deserved their victory although Ward can claim the goal of the game with a fantastic strike, even if it was in vain.
Tottenham: McGee; A. McQueen, Carter-Vickers, Ogivile, Ward; Miller (D. McQueen, 70), Ball, Onomah, Bush (Sonupe, 80); Lameiras; Zapata
Stoke: Eve; Cook, Sanders, Watkins-Clark, Westley (Hulme, 75); Ward, Lecygne (Makrillos, 75), Scott, Monlouis; Richards, Ricketts-Hopkinson (Ebanks 55)